Pic crossed the line just seconds before his countryman's accident with a time of 1:46.675, stealing pole from his teammate by just 0.052. Grosjean's best lap was also within a tenth of the top spot in a session where the action was just as hot as the scorching temperature.
A black cat ran across the circuit just as the lights went green to release the field, but if anyone was worried that it was an ill omen they were soon proved wrong: Jules Bianchi, Sam Bird, Grosjean, Pic and Esteban Gutierrez claimed and re-claimed the top spot as they all looked for an advantage on the tight and twisty circuit.
But it was van der Garde who looked to have a lock on the session with a scintillating lap just before halfway, with his rivals forced to concede and return for a new set of tires and a chance to find some improvement. Most of the field were back out a few minutes later as Johnny Cecotto spun and stopped at turn 2, bringing out the red flags and annoying those who were on their hot laps.
With only a few minutes remaining once the session went live, the drivers was soon tripping over each other in pursuit of a clean lap: a number of them found the pace for a fast sector, but it looked as though no one was going to be able to string them together until Pic stunned the pitlane with a super lap with 2 minutes remaining.
Grosjean was in P3 and hoping for more, but he pushed just too hard: the Frenchman ran over the curbs and slid into the wall, prompting the red flags as the clock ran down to zero. He will start alongside Luca Filippi tomorrow, with Gutierrez, Bird, Dani Clos and Davide Valsecchi just behind them. And with 13 drivers within a second of pole, and 25 within 2 seconds, the action promises to be even more torrid in the race tomorrow afternoon.
Valencia – Qualifying session
|1.||Charles Pic||Barwa Addax Team||1:46.675||11|
|2.||Giedo van der Garde||Barwa Addax Team||1:46.727||11|
|4.||Luca Filippi||Super Nova Racing||1:46.953||13|
|5.||Esteban Gutierrez||Lotus ART||1:46.995||11|
|6.||Sam Bird||iSport International||1:47.016||11|
|7.||Dani Clos||Racing Engineering||1:47.041||12|
|8.||Davide Valsecchi||Caterham Team AirAsia||1:47.129||12|
|9.||Jules Bianchi||Lotus ART||1:47.337||12|
|10.||Marcus Ericsson||iSport International||1:47.417||11|
|11.||Luiz Razia||Caterham Team AirAsia||1:47.418||12|
|15.||Christian Vietoris||Racing Engineering||1:47.875||12|
|16.||Stefano Coletti||Trident Racing||1:47.963||12|
|17.||Jolyon Palmer||Arden International||1:48.032||11|
|18.||Michael Herck||Scuderia Coloni||1:48.056||12|
|20.||Johnny Cecotto||Ocean Racing Technology||1:48.337||8|
|21.||Fairuz Fauzy||Super Nova Racing||1:48.527||14|
|22.||Josef Kral||Arden International||1:48.601||10|
|23.||Kevin Ceccon||Scuderia Coloni||1:48.631||11|
|24.||Rodolfo Gonzalez||Trident Racing||1:48.716||11|
|26.||Kevin Mirocha||Ocean Racing Technology||1:48.972||13|